Electro-Metro Tablet update

by Ben N on April 18, 2010

Lately, I have been playing with a tablet PC provided to my by my friend Tom.

A while back, I mentioned to him how a small computer display would be really handy. So, of course, he dug up an entire computer built around a 800×600 pixel touch-screen display.

So far, the main plan was to use it an an interface to the Open ReVolt “Cougar” controller, for programming and data-logging. The tablet PC was also missing the battery and back cover, but I would want it to run off car 12v power anyways, so a missing battery was no big deal. Since it needed both a back cover AND a way to mount it, I whipped up a dual-purpose plexiglass cover and mount.

The bracket on the back cover simply slides right into a space between the air vent and the frame of the dashboard.

Tonight was the first time that I could drive around and watch data from the controller in real-time. It’s not perfect. Watching a series of small lines as a graph is not the best way to use one’s attention while driving. Most likely the display will only be used for me to read information from while stopped. My large analog volt and amp meters are much better for displaying information while driving.

The tablet PC also has a headphone out jack, and my car stereo, only inches below, has a line in jack. That means I could FILL the harddrive with tunes and have hundreds of hours of music at my fingertips.

What else can I do with the tablet PC? How about a slideshow? I loaded some of my favorite photos of the Electro-Metro project onto the computer and set then as a slide-show. The PC is almost the perfect size to use as a virtual picture frame. Here’s a little video sample of that.

I’m really excited to have the tablet PC in the car now. It’s funny how some of the smaller things can really change the sense of a project. When I put my “clearance sale” hub caps on the car, it suddenly looked MUCH more clean and finished. With the addition of the “Virtual Dashboard” I have attained a new level of techno-geekiness. Before the car was just nerdy. Now, it is geeky, but in a good way.

Two days from now, I am supposed to be showing off my car at an EV station ribbon-cutting, right next to a Tesla Roadster.

We’ll see who has the geekier car then!

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